|2002: A new study states
that mammograms do NOT lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. An
article by two Danish researchers, Dr. Peter Gotzsche, and Ole Olsen,
of the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen, published in the October
20th issue of The Lancet, challenged assumptions about mammograms,
calling previous studies "flawed." The scientists analyzed seven
major studies which "proved" that women having regular mammograms had
a lower risk of dying of breast cancer. These studies, Gotzsche and
Olson concluded, did not meet the requirements of scientific standards
and were unreliable.
New research from Canada and Sweden
backs up Gotzsche and Olsen's results. They have shown that women
having mammograms regularly, had NO lower risk of dying of breast
cancer than did women who not having mammograms.
American medical providers have been
telling women for decades, that after the age of 50, they should have
a mammogram yearly or bi-yearly because regular mammograms cut the
risk of dying of breast cancer by 30 percent.
Mammograms, the researchers' analysis suggested, do not prevent women
from dying of breast cancer, nor do they prevent mastectomies.
Specifically, the researchers found:
* While it is often asserted that early
detection spares patients more aggressive treatments, screening
results in over-diagnosis, which has led to a 20% increase in
mastectomies and a 30% increase in the removal of tumors (tumorectomies).
* Mammograms not only pick up
slow-growing tumors, but also identify cell changes that under a
microscope look like cancer, but are biologically benign. As a result,
doctors may have aggressively treated something that may have gone
unnoticed during the women's lifetime.
(I have personally known several
women who came out "suspiciously" on a mammogram who a biopsy
showed, did not have breast cancer but a benign condition.)
The response of the American medical
providers to this announcement is similar to how they responded to the
first announcements that estrogen in the birth control pill was
CAUSING breast cancer. "We have no plans at this point to change the
national guidelines that have been in place for more than 20 years,"
says Dr. Peter Greenwald, the director of NCI's division of cancer
prevention in Bethesda, Md. Greenwald
admitted that he KNEW ABOUT the flaws in the seven studies upon which
the American medical providers base the assumption that regular
mammograms are helpful but as he told the press, "we don't think there
is enough information to cause us to change our minds."